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Office Parties

Last week, I joined my office’s party planning committee.  One of the ladies in the office asked me to do it and it seemed like it might be… fun?  Last year, we didn’t have the easiest time putting our holiday party together and it seemed that the people tasked with it had too much on their shoulders and were doing things too close to the party date.  Starting now with a larger group of people, we should have enough time to put together something that nearly everyone will enjoy and something that nearly everyone will participate in.  In theory anyway.

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One of the jobs of the committee is to come up with fun fundraising ideas to cover the cost of whatever it is we decide on doing.  It can be like pulling teeth to get people to agree to either pay for their own meal at the event or to purchase a ticket that will cover the cost.  Maybe it’s being cheap, maybe it’s the fact that no one wants to spend extra cash that close to Christmas, or maybe it just seems inconvenient.  Whatever the reason, we do some sort of fundraising activity prior to any office party so that little to no money comes out of anyone’s pocket and goes directly to the event.  So far this year, we planned another silent auction and we are holding a Halloween Decorations Contest with an entry fee and a smaller fee for every vote that is cast.  We’ve also tossed around the idea of doing a bake sale and other contests that would raise funds while also rewarding participants.

It’s crazy to me how unwilling people can be to help fund an event in any sort of simple manner.  OR just to pay their own way and be done with it.  It will cost approximately $20 per person for our holiday party, which would be no problem for me to save back between now and then.  But try to tell people that they’ll have to either purchase a ticket or bring $20 with them, the number of participants goes down dramatically.  People decide to leave their spouse or kid(s) at home, or they decide to stay at home with them.  Our Organizational Day over the summer had pretty high participation because it was fully funded.  Since the Holiday party has more to it, it presents a challenge to get it funded fully prior to the event.

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The second challenge we’re facing is finding a location.  We have a very outspoken IT guy who hosts a White Elephant gift exchange every year.  The volume of his voice, combined with the sometimes inappropriate things he tends to say, means that we need to find a location with a private room for about 50 people.  That in itself isn’t an issue, but deciding where definitely is.  One idea that was thrown out was to rent a place out that would supply us with the space, tables and chairs, and then get a food truck or trucks to come to the site and cater us.  The problem here is that it interferes with the gift exchange and no one wants to be walking outside to a food truck in the middle of December in Indiana.  We would also be responsible for the clean-up afterwards, which no one enjoys doing.

Our best bet is to find a restaurant with a private area for our group.  I narrowed the field to eight places and tackled contacting them with one other person.  Three of her picks and two of mine were a no-go because they were already booked.  One never got back to me, one costs far too much, and we are left with Dave & Busters.  At about $25 a head (which includes a $10 play card) and free room booking, this is looking like a fantastic option.  But will the rest of the office think so?  Someone is bound to say it’s too far of a drive, too loud of an establishment, not enough good food choices, or just not to their liking for reasons they would rather not express.  Regardless of what we do, people are going to complain.

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The third challenge we face is whether or not this can be considered an off site work day for us contractors.  If not, we are forced to use our annual leave in order to attend.  This honestly isn’t a big deal as far as I’m concerned; I can spare four hours of leave.  But for others, this will be a deciding factor in whether or not they attend.  We got more participation in our Organizational Day because we were allowed to consider it an off-site work day.  Ultimately, it’s our Branch Chief’s call, so it’s not a big concern for me just yet.  I do hope that he agrees just so we have a bigger group, but I still don’t see what the big deal is in taking a few hours of leave (us contractors get enough of it).

Our second committee meeting is scheduled for later today and I hope that the few of us can come to a location agreement and start some additional fund raising activities to get this going for real.  I have to break the bad news to the group that their bake sale is a no-go as planned (our building won’t allow us to set up tables up front for the whole building due to their contract with the food service company here), and that was meant to be the biggest money maker we had.  Obviously, the main concern is going to be the funding.  If anyone has any brilliant ideas of how to raise money in an office of 63 people, please share!

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on October 8, 2013, in Fun!, Party!, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Whatever happened to simply putting up a sign up sheet and notice that everyone that signs up will need to pay X amount of dollars for their portion of the costs of the party?

    If nobody wants to sign up and pay, nobody gets to party.

    The place where I work always just buys enough meat and fixings for a cookout/BBQ and does that the last day before everyone is off for the holidays (usually utilizing the local SAMS club/Costco). One of the VPs has a giant smoker/grill trailer and he hauls it to work and fires it up and cooks all morning, then everyone has a crazy unhealthy lunch, plays some reindeer games and goes home.

    Keep it simple.

    • This place is crazy. Last year, people complained because there was a flat fee of $18 for lunch and drinks in a private room at Bravo. For the Christmas thing, they have to have the private room, a lunch that they don’t have to work for, and someone to clean up afterwards. Bonus if we can get some sort of entertainment other than the gift exchange. For our summer Organizational Day, we just raised funds and did a cook-out, but Christmas is different. Personally, I would be happy just paying my own cost and being done with it.

      • Here’s a solution: “Due to the government shutdown, cutbacks and massive furloughs, we will not be having a Christmas function this year.

        Write a letter of thanks to your local Representative.”

  2. Sweetheart party (valentine party theme) Not rated yet I bought all the valentine stuff (decorations) after the holiday. Then during the summer one evening I had a valentines party.

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